I had a project in mind which was to start a bonsai from seed on the day of birth of my first child, so that I could one day tell her the story of that bonsai as old as her.
Now I am going to be father in a month time and I didn't think this through enough.
I have never started a bonsai from seed either and I don't know much about it.
What are my best options, including indoor light-aid solutions or sowing now and watching it germinating in spring?
What species would you recommend? (I am based in London)
If the seeds don't work, I can always buy later a plant with roughly the same age, but is not as romantic.
East and West is not ideal, but will work for most decidious trees. Also you are in a good climate to grow bonsai.
I would suggest to go out in the area around you and collect seeds from decidious trees. Oak, maple and horse shestnut are ready to collect right now. Get a few of each, you cannot rely on one seed only as germination rates is quite low. Sow them in organic soil outdoors and wait for them to sprout in spring. Unfortunately no trees germinate in november when you are expecting.
Growing from seed or from cutting are very doable, but do require a certain level of horticultural experience.
I personally would start a whole bunch of seeds. Plant them, protect from rodents and keep outside for winter. The only species I know of that reliably germinates in autum are oaks, Quercus robur. These seeds fall in fall and germinate immediatly between the leaves. So collecting them now and planting them in pots would be a great option. Just realize aquirrels love seeds and will find them if not protected.
Larch grows very easily from seed, and seeds can be sourced from seed dealers affordably & quickly. They are also a great beginnen species. With maple, go for field maple or trident maple. Those are both well suited for bonsai, and are more robust than e.g., japanese maples when growing from seed.
If not growing from seed, you could get a seedling somewhere. Not really cheating, as you are starting the process now, in the year of birth.